Cherie Warner-Richard is the founder of Cee Wee Designs, an Ontario, Canada-based Black-owned, woman-led luxury bag and accessory brand. She began her business about ten years ago on the island of Tobago, when she made a bag for herself.
According to her, the bag piqued the interest of several people who desired to own one. According to CBC, she then decided to commercialize her craft, which led to the establishment of Cee Wee Designs.
She eventually moved from Tobago to stay in Hamilton, Canada. According to her, her home inspires her designs. “I am from the Caribbean. We have a [bright] sun, we like bright colours … I like to create statement pieces. I want you to love your bag, your earrings, whatever it is,” she told CBC.
Warner-Richard wanted to be a speech therapist before starting her own business. Her passion was to assist people in developing their speech in order to improve communication. She returned to her home country to work after graduating from the University of the West Indies, Mona (UWI, Mona), where she studied Linguistics with minors in Zoology and Caribbean Sign Language Interpretation. However, finding work became difficult for her.
“I went home trying to get a job, I was supposed to teach but nothing was happening. I decided I wasn’t gonna sit around waiting. So after a couple of months, I told myself that I had to do something to make money,” Warner-Richard told FunTimes Magazine.
She started teaching music. “I started my own music school in Tobago and it thrived for two years. So, that was like my first venture into entrepreneurship.”
Warner-Richard comes from a business family. Her grandmother and mother were both business owners. So she didn’t give up when the music school she founded closed. She decided to turn her bag-making hobby into a business.
She now has clients from the Caribbean, North America, and Europe. Warner-Richard sells, markets, and creates the designs almost entirely on her own. Her outfit includes handbags, face masks, and a small amount of jewelry.
She wishes for Cee Wee to become a one-stop shop for accessories.